NEWBERG, Ore. — Lavender is in full bloom this month and there are some great places in Oregon's wine country where you can walk the fields and pick your own, and you can try a bunch of lavender products.
There are 450 varieties of lavender, from big fancy flowers, to skinny and simple, and so many shades. In addition to being a great landscaping tool in a border, or in pots, lavender's health benefits are said to include: a calming scent to help fall asleep or reduce anxiety, an acne remedy, and even a hair growth solution.
Wayward Winds Lavender is the biggest u-pick farm in Oregon, with over 12 acres to roam. With the 16th annual Lavender Festival canceled this year over coronavirus, u-pick farms are great places to practice physical distancing while wandering through fields of purple-beauty with your family.
July and August are bloom time. That's when photographers flock to the fields for amateur smart phone shoots or professional portraits with the family. Wayward Winds has 3,000 plants and 100 different varieties. Owner Marilyn Kosel was a Beaverton and TVF&R firefighter for 15 years before she went full-time lavender farmer.
"For me it was mostly the creative endeavor of designing the fields so they look beautiful, designing different products and just the need to be creatively active all the time," Kosel said.
Here's how a u-pick farm works: Bring your own or borrow a pair of scissors, grab a basket, all sanitized by the way, then grab a handful and cut right at the base of where the stems meet the leaves. Wayward Winds charges $6 for a really big fistful, and you can cut as many bunches as you want.
"The dried buds remain fragrant, you can use the dried flowers in crafting, making wreaths, lavender wands," Kosel said.
Bring a picnic lunch, your leashed dog and your kids and stay as long as you like. When you're done, don't forget to browse all the products many of these farms make themselves.
At Wayward Winds, Kosel and her team create soaps, scent sprays, lavender salts, sugars, chocolate sauce and they have nine lavender-flavored syrups to go in cooking or cocktails: Think lavender-pear, lavender-habanaro-rose, lavender-vanilla, lavender-ginger-peach, lavender-rosemary, etc. They also use those syrups in fresh Italian soda drinks and sno-cones made in their building right in the field. You can find her shop of products here.
Wayward Winds is open every day through Aug. 9, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Taste Newberg site is a great resource for all the other farms and shops. The Little Lavender Shop just recently opened in downtown Newberg, selling products from their small, no-spray farm in Dundee.